confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Definition of confer

intransitive verb

: to compare views or take counsel : consult

transitive verb

1 : to bestow from or as if from a position of superiority conferred an honorary degree on her knowing how to read was a gift conferred with manhood— Murray Kempton
2 : to give (something, such as a property or characteristic) to someone or something a reputation for power will confer power— John Spanier

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Other Words from confer

conferment \ kən-​ˈfər-​mənt How to pronounce conferment (audio) \ noun
conferrable \ kən-​ˈfər-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce conferrable (audio) \ adjective
conferral \ kən-​ˈfər-​əl How to pronounce conferral (audio) \ noun
conferrer \ kən-​ˈfər-​ər How to pronounce conferrer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for confer

Synonyms

accord, award, grant, vest

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Choose the Right Synonym for confer

give, present, donate, bestow, confer, afford mean to convey to another as a possession. give, the general term, is applicable to any passing over of anything by any means. give alms gave her a ride on a pony give my love to your mother present carries a note of formality and ceremony. present an award donate is likely to imply a publicized giving (as to charity). donate a piano to the orphanage bestow implies the conveying of something as a gift and may suggest condescension on the part of the giver. bestow unwanted advice confer implies a gracious giving (as of a favor or honor). confer an honorary degree afford implies a giving or bestowing usually as a natural or legitimate consequence of the character of the giver. the trees afford shade a development that affords us some hope

Confer vs. Consult

Confer and consult are very closely related in meaning, and each has senses that are synonymous with the other’s. But as is so often the case with near-synonyms, there are contexts in which one word is preferable to the other.

If you confer with someone, it is entirely possible that you will be seeking advice, but you could also simply be having a discussion (“they conferred privately before making a decision”). If you are consulting someone or something, it is more likely that you are seeking advice (“he consulted his doctor before deciding on a course of treatment”). Consult is unambiguously the correct choice when one is seeking guidance or information from a non-human source; you would consult (not confer with) a dictionary for information on a word.

The sense of confer that is concerned with giving something (as in, “education confers many benefits”) is not shared by consult.

Examples of confer in a Sentence

The cameleers … conferred with each other about the safest path across. — Greg Child, Mixed Emotions: Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child, 1993 He liked the ease and glitter of the life, and the lustre conferred on him by being a member of this group of rich and conspicuous people. — Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905 It was a traditional compliment to be whinged at by an Englishman. It was his way of saying he trusted you, he was conferring upon you the privilege of getting to know the real him. — Margaret Atwood, New Yorker, 5 Mar.1990 The lawyer and judge conferred about the ruling. the British monarch continues to confer knighthood on those who are outstanding in their fields of endeavor
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Recent Examples on the Web

While chiding the district judge for overstepping, the Chief Justice says the unearthed evidence show Mr. Ross had conferred with other executive-branch officials about a citizenship question before Justice sent its request. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Contradictions of John Roberts," 27 June 2019 Before a packed courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Manafort sat silently looking forward as his lawyers and an assistant district attorney, Christopher R. Conroy, conferred with Justice Maxwell Wiley about next steps. Sharon Otterman, New York Times, "Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to N.Y. Charges Designed to Thwart a Trump Pardon," 27 June 2019 His lawyer, William Bourdon, explained that by holding him in custody, police investigators aimed to ensure that Platini and other witnesses couldn’t confer with each other about their testimonies. Samuel Petrequin, The Denver Post, "Michel Platini arrested: Former UEFA president in 2022 World Cup probe," 18 June 2019 His lawyer, William Bourdon, explained that by holding him in custody, police investigators aimed to ensure that Platini and other witnesses couldn't confer with each other about their testimonies. John Leicester, chicagotribune.com, "Michel Platini, the former UEFA president, arrested in 2022 World Cup probe," 18 June 2019 In the month since a former student killed 17 students and staff at a Florida high school, principals have been conferring about how to handle this day. Ann Doss Helms, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte students to join massive #NeverAgain march against gun violence | Charlotte Observer," 14 Mar. 2018 Centuries later, after Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C., the conqueror’s agents in Thebes observed how the festival’s symbolic power could be adapted to confer divine legitimacy upon Alexander’s control of the region. National Geographic, "Egypt’s pharaohs welcomed summer with this fabulous festival," 25 June 2019 As the shades of Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy can testify, however, great power does not automatically confer wisdom. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "The Case for Restraint in the Gulf," 17 June 2019 Recording ability decreased with time, probably because operating as a tape recorder does not confer any survival benefits, Endy says. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, "Bacterial "Tape Recorder" Could Keep Tabs on Bodily Functions," 7 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of confer

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for confer

Latin conferre to bring together, from com- + ferre to carry — more at bear

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Statistics for confer

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for confer

The first known use of confer was circa 1500

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More Definitions for confer

confer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of confer

formal
: to discuss something important in order to make a decision
: to give (something, such as a degree, award, title, right, etc.) to someone or something

confer

verb
con·​fer | \ kən-ˈfər How to pronounce confer (audio) \
conferred; conferring

Kids Definition of confer

1 : bestow, present Many honors were conferred upon her at graduation.
2 : to compare views especially in studying a problem The umpires decided to confer with one another.

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More from Merriam-Webster on confer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confer

Spanish Central: Translation of confer

Nglish: Translation of confer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confer for Arabic Speakers

Comments on confer

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